Letting Go

Letting go… Probably the toughest lesson for any parent to learn. It’s certainly been a roller coaster ride for me.

It all starts with the cutting of the umbilical cord. Although by the time my nine months was up, I was more than ready to get her out of my tummy. Being pregnant was magical and wonderful. I never got sick, in fact probably felt the best I ever did during my pregnancy. But once eight months comes around and then nine…the body can only take so much. Yes, the first of all the “letting go” came then although most of us probably didn’t realize it.

I’ve spent the last sixteen years of my life taking care of my daughter. Making sure she had what she needed, helping her work out problems, wiping away her tears when she got hurt… and I loved every moment of being her mother. Through it all there were levels of letting go. When she started walking and got it in her head that walking equated freedom. I had to loosen the reins to allow her room to explore her little world. Then school came along and her little world became a bit bigger. It was rough watching a little five year old walk into a huge school looking so vulnerable. Then came time for her to move on to middle school. Ok, I had to let those reins out quite a bit more. She was becoming more independent and had ideas that she was ready to make her own decisions. We struggled at times, but my decision would always stand.

High school. Those reins were literally yanked out of my hands. She’s now an almost adult with her own ideas, opinions and desires. Old enough to start driving and hold down a job. The teachers in high school treat them like adults and expect them to handle their own issues with much, much less parent interference, I felt like she had gotten on a speeding train and I was running along beside the train trying to keep up. Watching her get farther and farther away.

In my eyes, she’ll always be my baby. When I see her getting knocked down, I want to go and pick her up, but she snarls at me and tells me to leave her alone. When someone says something to hurt her feelings, my maternal instinct kicks in and I feel the need to jump in and speak to the other person. God forbid I ever do something like that. She’s never forgive me for interfering. She sulks to her room most days and wants nothing to do with me. She has her own ideas of how she will do her chores and they don’t necessarily align with mine. I want them done a certain way and she tells me that “logically” it’s better her way. We clash on almost everything. My opinion no longer means anything to her. When I see her struggling with something and try to offer feedback on how it could be better – I’m hassling her, making her life miserable…

She’s growing up. Finding her own way in this world and I have to step aside and watch her make mistakes. Offering guidance and suggestions has become a strategic business. I have to find the right moments and the right words to dish up my advice otherwise they get rejected soundly.

Letting go at this point was no longer a choice or option for me to arrive at. It was forced on me whether I liked it or not. Perhaps there’s a reason why Teenagers become such vile, snarling creatures – it’s to speed up the separation process. Otherwise, you’d have parents like me who are still in their protective, parenting mode way past the time of letting go.

Everyone says it’s a phase so I guess once the “letting go” process is complete, we can both go back to being normal human beings again.

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The Invisible People

I usually try to make my posts light-hearted and amusing if I can, but this is a topic that bothers me and I need to let it out.

The other day I was walking through the mall and saw a woman pushing a younger woman in a wheelchair. Possibly a sister or a friend. Lovely looking lady. She appeared to take the time to make herself look pretty with makeup and her hair was pulled to the side and tied in a ribbon with soft curls. It was also quite obvious that she was permanently confined to the wheelchair by the way her blanket was draped over her legs.

I ended up walking behind them as we made our way through the mall and watched the people walking towards them. Each and every one of them appeared to make a conscious effort to not look at the woman in the chair. They either looked straight ahead as if there was nothing rolling by them, or they looked directly at the woman doing the pushing. Some smiled and acknowledged the standing woman but not a single one of them looked down to smile or speak to chair occupant. Several others appeared to get uncomfortable as if they were uncertain of where to look and they made a deliberate effort to get engrossed in a conversation with another in their party or to focus on an item in one of the shop windows.

You could tell by the woman’s face that she was used to this kind of response, but it still bothered her that everyone completely ignored her. I’ve lived with disabilities in my family and I know how it feels to be ignored. Deafness runs in my family and I’ve seen and felt firsthand how people will change the way they treat a person as soon as they find out that they’re less than perfect. Many of them just don’t want to take the time to communicate with a deaf person. After all most deaf people will rely on written communication if there’s no translator around, as we all know writing takes more effort than the spoken word. I’m my mother’s translator. I take her to all of her appointments and to stores for shopping. In spending so much time with her, I’ve concluded that there are three kinds of people. The first kind are the ones who genuinely care and make the effort to see past the disability to find the real person underneath. The second are the uncomfortable ones who go into a semi-panic mode when they find out that the person has something wrong with them, They’ll get that deer in the headlights look as they look desperately at me or anyone around to please come and rescue them from having to figure out how to communicate with this thing. I say thing because they’re not treating them as a living, breathing person  they’re more focused on the disability. The third group is the worst. They’re the ones who think they’re superior because they have all of their facilities and don’t feel that anyone who is disabled in any way can possibly meet their standards so therefore they don’t see them as worthy of their time. I seem to see this in a lot of professional people in the medical field. I realize that they have a limited amount of time to spend with each patient but that’s a crappy excuse. I’ve actually heard of many a deaf person that came out of a doctor’s office saying that they need surgery, but couldn’t tell me exactly what was wrong or what the surgery would entail.

Isn’t that the scariest thing you’ve ever heard, and the saddest.

Back to the mall – I walked up to the lovely lady in the wheelchair, stooped down so that I was on her eye level and told her that I thought she looked really pretty today. Her eyes sparkled and her hand went to her curls and her smile was the most beautiful thing I had seen that whole day. We had a nice conversation before parting ways and I’ll always remember that look of gratitude in her eyes that someone took the time to acknowledge her presence in the world.

Language!!

“Fail – epic fail,” I commented in reference to an incident that occurred on the road as my Teenager and I were driving home the other day.

She stopped texting and glanced at me with a little shake of the head. “Mom, please don’t say that, you’re too old for that terminology.” And went back to her texting.

HUH?? I’m too old to say epic fail? So I decided to push her buttons a little.

“Don’t be such a hater, honey.”

She threw her head back and rolled her eyes,” Mom, please.”

I smiled, this was going to be fun. “Did you see the guy down the street? His car is totally jacked up.”

Well this finally got her to put her phone down, “Mom, it’s not cool for guys your age to say those things. Just talk normal.”

So what’s normal? The other day I said something was groovy and she told me I was showing my age. If I use the old slang terminology from my day, it’s embarrassing. If I use the same slang as the Teenagers do today, that’s just so wrong according to them. I guess there’s a parent language that we older folks are supposed to be limited to. We’re supposed to speak with proper grammar (more or less), no slang words, and definitely nothing that the Teens use today. I think I’m pretty with it these days. Sure there are things I just don’t say. They’re just not me for one thing. But to be told that I’m old for using certain slang words or too old to be using others is just ridiculous. Personally I think that the people who are able to use a wide range of words whether slang or proper, are unique and interesting.

Just like clothes, hairstyles and mannerisms – vocabulary can define and show who a person is. Have you ever listened to someone who considers themselves to be intellectually superior to the rest of the population? They’ll use every obscure word they can pull out and their grammar has to be impeccable. Then on the other hand there are those who want to fit into their little social groups so bad that they’ll only speak in the appropriate slang of that group. Either way is boring. Personally, I can’t sit and listen to either kind drone on and on in their limited languages. Give me someone who can speak intellectually while able to pepper their verse with slang words and phrases. Someone who can use current terminology and still not be afraid to pull from older ones for fear of showing their age. that kind of a person can usually command the attention of a crowd.

I’ll continue to speak any way I like and play around with words. Annoying my Teenager with my use of her generation’s slang is an added perk. LOL.

Oh and by the way honey, yes, I do know what POS and LMFAO means….

Dreamin’ of Italy

I totally get it now, why people plan and go on a fantastic vacation once their kids leave the nest. Raising kids, especially those last few teenage years, has to be the toughest job for anyone. We get days off every year from work to regroup and recharge ourselves, but there’s no time off from raising kids. I guess that grand vacation after our kid(s) leave home is that vacation to regroup after 18+ years of work. It may also be a way to cope with the emptiness that we’re sure to feel for a while. I know I’m going to cry  when my Teen leaves and it’s probably going to be the toughest time of my life trying to adjust back to being who I was before I became a parent, (if I ever do).

However, I’m already dreaming of that Italian vacation. Italy is a place that I’ve always wanted to visit, and lately after dealing with so much angst from and with my Teen, I’m ready to go. My fantasy is to take a long extended vacation, fly to Italy, rent a car and just drive. I’m not quite sure what part of Italy I want to visit first but the Amalfi Coast sounds like a lovely drive. I have this book that I bought a few years ago when I started dreaming of visiting Italy and every so often I’ll pick it up and read about a section of Italy. I think I want to cover all of Italy at some point, but for now, I’ll have to pick a section.

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Everyone has a dream of a place they’d like to see before they die. Well, Italy is at the top of my bucket list. I’d like to think that one day I’ll see it. This isn’t about taking a break from raising kids, although I like to kid about how tough it is to do so (well it’s actually true, but well worth it). No, I feel that everyone needs a dream or a goal. Otherwise, what’s to look forward to? To work toward? The day we stop dreaming, is the day we should just hang it all up. I dream all the time, daydreams, night dreams, fantasies or little thoughts here and there. It keeps me sane. It keeps me going. Whatever makes you happy or whatever you think you want to experience, never let go of it. Sooner or later the opportunity will present itself. I do believe in the power of positive thinking.

Meanwhile, “Continuare a sognare”, (Keep on dreaming). I hope I got that right…may need to work on my Italian a bit before I actually head out there, huh?

I’d welcome any comments or advice of any of you guys who know anything about Italy, like which part of Italy would you recommend or suggest…

Sweet Valentine

Here it is the end of Valentine’s day. I hope many of you had a wonderful day with those you love. Remember to show that love and affection every day of the year, not just February 14.

While I love the concept of Valentine’s day. It’s fun, it’s romantic… it can also be very stressful for many. That one day of the year can create a lot of stress either because one is expecting or hoping for some display of love from a certain person or perhaps just SOME one. Still others are feeling pressure to perform by some fantastic display of affection toward a loved one. I think Valentine’s Day needs to be taken as a fun day of love but nothing more. We all need to remember to always display our love and affection toward those who mean the most to us every day. Personally I love being surprised by a romantic dinner or a single rose beside the bed at random. Those are the times when you know that someone is doing it from a genuine feeling of love and affection. Those are the really special moments.

So – readers, Happy Valentine’s and show your love all year round. IMG_1253

Patience

Let’s give this a physical form – imagine patience as a worn, light blue, cotton shirt. Light blue because that’s a color I normally equate with tranquility and peace. Worn because that’s when it’s perfect for wearing, not stiff or scratchy against the skin. It’s cool, comfortable and relaxing to wear. Now picture that light blue, cotton shirt as having been pulled, burned, ripped, run over, walked on and stretched so hard that the fibers no longer knit together tightly. It’s now scuffed with boot and tire tracks, frayed with strings hanging out, numerous small rips throughout the whole shirt, perhaps even a sleeve torn off, and scorched. That’s how I’d describe my patience today.

Nothing fazed me before. I had an abundance of patience. I could deal with all sorts of situations with relative ease and calmness. With a baby, I had no trouble walking the floors at night with her when she was fussing. If she cried, I could comfort, rock, and soothe her without getting upset. With a toddler, I’d try to guide her away from trouble spots so she would stay safe, sit and try to communicate to her what was right and what was wrong to do. With a school age child, I would go night after night without television or going out just so I could show her how she needed to manage her homework without distraction. I sat with her for hours many nights helping her figure out problems. I handled arguments rationally and calmly. Sure I got frustrated and angry at times, but for the most part my patience always won out and I would rationalize how it could be in the other person’s shoes and try to work with them keeping that perspective in mind.

Now with a Teenager………… my rationale is gone, brain is fried, stress levels have shot up through the roof, and most of all my patience is completely crippled. It’s now like that ripped, scorched, frayed, dirtied cotton shirt. I scream like a madwoman. I cry inconsolably. I sit in a corner and babble like an idiot. I look in the mirror and see a haggard, hollow-eyed woman with hair sticking out in all directions from pulling on it. That woman looks back at me pleading with her eyes to please come and rescue her from the Teenager.

Teens are smart creatures. They’re practically adults only with completely different thought processes. They’re risk takers, procrastinators, and very, very quick to take offense when someone tries to give them advice or impose discipline. There’s no such thing as telling a Teen to do something and having it get done. No – when you tell them to do something, they seem to feel that they must do the opposite or debate the issue for hours. It can be something as simple as doing the dishes. And I’m not talking about a massive amount of dishes from a whole day of cooking and feeding something like 25 people. There were only a couple of plates, cups and some silverware, no pots or pans. Simple process, just wash and stack them to dry. The Teen, however always makes this into an ordeal. By ordeal, I mean the discussion and ensuing argument that ends up lasting an hour or more. They’ll argue, wheedle and try to bargain their way out of it or at the very least do it on their own timetable and their own way. That’s an hour gone from my life! It often goes like this…

“Honey, it’s time to do the dishes.”

“OK, later mom.”

“No, they need to be done right now.”

“Why does it have to be right now?” Remember, she’ll probably be texting madly all this time.

“Just put that damn phone away and come get it done. Now, not later, not tomorrow.”

“Sheesh mom, you’re so uptight. Logically it’ll be better to wait till later so I can include all the dishes for the day.”

“It is later, it’s almost 8 pm. I NEED you to come do them right now.”

“OMG, I’m doing something right now, can’t you see that?”

All the while my voice is steadily rising a few octaves higher. “PUT THAT PHONE DOWN OR I’LL THROW IT UP AGAINST THE WALL!!!”

“YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME!! YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT ME!! I’M HAVING A CRISIS WITH MY BOYFRIEND AND YOU JUST DON’T CARE!!!!!”

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.” That would be me running from the room screaming and pulling on my hair.

Yup, my patience has died a horrible, painful death.

Sweet Sixteen??

Who was it that originally coined the phrase Sweet Sixteen? It’s an oxymoron. There’s nothing sweet about sixteen. In my limited experience, sixteen seems to be the worst year ever. Have you ever tried to talk rationally to a sixteen year old? It’s nearly impossible! They seem to think that they have all the answers even while they’re moaning and crying about how stressed their lives are. You try to give them suggestions and relay stories of your own experiences when you were that age, but they’ll throw it right back in your face, saying you have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be sixteen.

I’m trying to survive these teen years, but damn it’s hard. It’s hard to be the rational one, the calm one that imparts wisdom when the teen just flat out refuses to listen. All they seem to want to do is moan and dramatize their own plight. Heaven forbid anyone else ever have that same experience that they’re going through. No, each and every thing that they’re going through is a first of its kind unique to only them.

I’m frustrated. Can you tell? Sweet Sixteen, no I haven’t seen too much sweetness around sixteen year olds. I see a lot of over dramatizing and self absorption.

I can’t wait till she gets through this phase and she and I can go out and laugh over these years. I’m sure it will come, but for now. I’m simply trying to keep what little hair I have left on my head.

Sweet Sixteen indeed…. I think someone knew how rough sixteen would be and was trying to sugar-coat it for all of us upcoming parents so that we wouldn’t run screaming from the prospect.